More and more evidence from medical studies shows a strong relationship between an individual’s physical strength and their lifespan. This insight sparks the question: Will strength training make me live longer? While there really is not a direct, one-size-fits-all answer to that question, it is safe to say strength training has plenty of health benefits. It’s always recommended you consult your doctor before implementing a new exercise routine.
What is strength training?
In layman’s terms, strength training is a way of exercising with additional resistance to stress and strengthen your muscles over time. It aids in muscle building, bone-strengthening, improving balance and injury prevention. In addition to being a board-certified Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation physician, Dr. Simone Maybin with CMC Orthopedics, is a certified personal trainer, health coach and a professional bodybuilder. Dr. Maybin explains, “Strength training can improve lifestyle in so many areas, including managing chronic pain and improving bone health.”
Forms of strength training
- Bodyweight training uses your own bodyweight as resistance. This includes familiar exercises such as pull-ups, push-ups, squats, crunches, lunges and more. This is a great spot to begin all of your strength-training sessions to warm-up your muscles, no matter your experience level. If you are new to this type of exercise, bodyweight training is a great place to begin. Start by familiarizing yourself with these movements and perfecting your form before you begin adding weight. Using your own weight as resistance is also a great way to get your workout at home without purchasing any equipment.
- Resistance bands offer slightly more resistance than bodyweight movements. Resistance bands vary in resistance based on their thickness and can be used for a plethora of exercises. Resistance bands are affordable and easy to find online or in stores like Target and Walmart. Keep a few bands by your TV at home and try out some banded squats during a commercial break.
- Weight training machines offer a broader selection of training loads than the ones mentioned above. These machines usually are for seated or lying down exercises and can be a good option for individuals who need to be seated for medical reasons. The machines are designed to almost force people into practicing proper form by design, making it a great resource for people just starting a strength training routine. It can be intimidating to try out machines for the first time in a gym. Dr. Maybin adds, ‘I like machines because it reduces the chance of injury for individuals who have less experience”.
- Free Weights, sometimes referred to as “free weights”, are hand-held weights that are available in a wide variety of resistances. This form of exercise can be versatile in use. Whether you want to focus on heavy lower body moves, light upper body moves, or a more HIIT-style conditioning workout, incorporating dumbbells is a great way to add resistance. Dumbbells are a great way to start adding “additional weight” into your strength training routine. Medical studies show barbell exercises offer the widest range of loading intensities and the ability to load multi joint movement patterns and large volumes of muscle simultaneously. Fundamental barbell exercises include the squat, deadlift and press.
Benefits of strength training
Effie Akerlund, Clinical Dietician Specialist with CMC Weight Loss, says “Strength training can be very beneficial for metabolism, including improving insulin resistance. It can be very helpful for people with diabetes.”
Implementing a strength training routine into your life can have the following mental and physical health benefits:
- Blood Pressure
- Blood Sugar
- Heart Disease
- Chronic Pain
- Weight Management
“The number one mistake I see my patients make is just not starting any weight resistance because they are overwhelmed by the choices,” explains Dr. Maybin, “For patients with injuries or pain it could be most appropriate to start your work with a physical therapist.”
Dr. Maybin recommends people without an injury should “commit to just 1-2 days a week of 20-30 minutes. Once that goal is crushed, increase your intensity of workout before adding more days or time to training sessions.”
Proper recovery is crucial to a successful strength training program. To see the most benefits from strength-training, athletes should focus on getting proper nutrition, adequate sleep and making sure to incorporate 1-3 active rest days a week. An active rest day can include light stretching, an easy walk, light yoga or an easy bike ride.
Conway Medical Center is Your Partner on Your Journey to Better Health
The studies are undeniable: Exercise is one of the best things you can do for your overall health. In addition to reducing your risk for heart attacks or stroke, it can also help you manage chronic diseases like diabetes or high blood pressure.
For decades, Conway Medical Center has served the community as a beacon of quality health care. We’re interested in treating the whole individual. With services ranging from wound care to weight loss we take our commitment to the community seriously.
Want to learn more about how to establish a solid exercise routine? Need to know more about easy exercises for beginners? Talk to your primary care doctor for more information.
If you don’t have a primary care physician, you can find one affiliated with Conway Medical Center by checking out our primary care page.